December 15, 2012

Writers Are An Eclectic Bunch

Go to any writers conference and you will see a true mix of humanity: from the high brow literary professor or businessman in a suit who has dreams of being the next best selling author; to a young adult male dressed up as Star Trek's Spock, who believes it is a clever gimmick to pitch his science fiction novel to every agent with an introduction of, "Live long and prosper". And of course, he too, has dreams of being the next best selling author.

Words Can Change You

I remember the first writers conference I went to. I didn't have any idea of what to expect. I had on my blue interview suit and pantyhose (which I frickin hate), packed my satchel with a leather binder and gold pen and went off with my little hopes and dreams.  

The conference was broken down into about four sessions where you went to a classroom in the building to learn about writing, marketing, agents, publishers. Topics like how to write your first novel, how to get the attention of an agent, the do's and don't of writing, etc. (I don't remember what they were actually called.)

I barely remember any of it. (I mean, I loved it and I learned a lot but I don't remember exactly what I learned that day.) But if you know me or you have been reading my blog, you know I DO notice the crazy stuff that happens or the strange people which may meander on by.

During one of the breaks, I went to the bookstore in the building and bought one of the book's written by a presenter at the conference. I was now in line for the author's signature. (The funny thing is, I had no idea who this presenter/author was but he was speaking at the conference so I thought, he had to be someone, right? Five years later and I don't think I opened the book, ever. I think it was a book on Vietnam or something.)

So I was in line and I kept hearing this thumpety thump thump behind me. I turn around and look down and this man is thumping his big white florescent tennis shoe against the floor, obviously impatient about the long line. I look up and smile, more of a gesture of please stop rather than a greeting, but I must have gotten the look wrong because it elicited a huge conversation, and to this day, I have no idea what the point of it was. The man behind me held up his self-published book with a black Labrador on the cover and said, "Do you want to buy a book about my dog." I was like oh man and being the nice person I am, I got sucked into a conversation which made no sense.

A few years ago, I went to another writers conference. I finally decided I was going to take a chance, put myself out there, and let an agent see the intro to Finding Hope. The problem is my beginning to Finding Hope was and still is the hardest part to get right. And even a non-writer knows, if the reader isn't interested in the first few pages, it's unlikely to be read. So I geared myself up.

The New York agent, we'll call him Mr. X, which was going to be holding the pitch sessions was someone I had been reading about for the past year in the writers magazines. (A pitch session is where you go in to a room where an agent is sitting usually at a table and you have about fifteen minutes to "pitch" your story. They read a few pages and tell you briefly, what they think.) My husband and I drove through the night so I could be at the conference the next morning. At 2:00 a.m. I was delivering my rehearsed lines of what my story was about to my sleep deprived driving husband.

At the conference the next day, I attended a few sessions about writing (like the other conference) and I went to the agent's room at the scheduled time I was given. I remember sitting outside of the room in a chair ready to hyperventilate. So when it's my turn I go into the room with the agent and I light up like a Christmas tree, I'm so excited. Mr. X was the star of the agent world to me. He was laid back, easy-going, professional, personable, a true book lover. And  . . . I looked like an obsessed fan.

I started rattling off about how great he is and everything I knew about him. (I knew a lot just because I have a great memory when it came to past articles about him.) He said, "You're not a stalker are you?"  Oh crap, I came back to reality, I just screwed up. I redeemed myself by saying something he laughed about but it was not the experience I had planned. (I think a crazed fan possessed my body like Annie Wilkes from the movie Misery, but surely that person who acted that way was not me.) 

He read my first few pages and he said, "You have the concept but it's not ready to be published yet." Somewhat positive, right? It left me paralyzed. Fear of failure, fear of success, or maybe still blown over that I met The God of Agents. (Okay, I have to stop that. I am not a stalker. I am not a stalker. :o)

What is this all for? What is the point? (I think I've lost it somewhere.) Oh yes, if you want to be a writer, go for it. I attend a writers group once a month and the teacher said that everything really is a story about people and we read fiction to find someone to relate to. It is true. We try to understand people and the world when we open a book; whether it is to learn something, feel better, or just to be entertained. It's all about understanding life and somehow, our place in it.

Or, if you don't think you are good enough to be a writer, or have the background I should say, think again. Here is an appropriate quote from one of my stories, The Writers Resort, when the main character (who believes she has it all together) attends the resort with other hopeful writers and tells the owner the residents are not exactly how she thought they would be.

"I just don't think these are the type of people I expected here. I thought real writers were professional and half-way normal. All I see here are people with problems."

"Imagine that, people writing because they have a problem with life," Mary Alice laughed. "Honey, you don't know the first thing about writers. Creativity and crazy go hand-in-hand. Welcome to the club."

So if you truly want to be a writer, I believe, you need a little bit of craziness in you. Because most writers don't exactly understand the world, but they want to. And they want to take you along with them.

After the last writers conference, I learned it takes all kinds of people to be writers. Some are very professional and seem to have it all together and others, are two steps away from crazy. And I guess I fit right in there due to my "I'm your biggest fan" episode with Mr. X, The God of Agents.  I walked away that day with my blue suit, leather binder, gold pen and God forsaken pantyhose knowing a writer doesn't have to be anyone but who they are because in their stories, they can only write about what is meaningful to them.

I also walked away with a book I'll never read about Vietnam but the good news is; I didn't walk away with a book about a guy's dog.

December 10, 2012

Here We Are

A few tidbits . . .

Yesterday morning, I decided to watch a movie on Syfy while I was giving the baby a bottle. It was called Transmorphers. No, not Transformers but Transmorphers! First, I should have known a knock-off of Transformers would not be good. A second clue. What good movie is on at 8:00 A.M. in the morning?

Next . . . A week or so ago, I was putting my 6 year-old daughter to bed. While I was in bed with her, we overheard my husband answer the phone. "Good evening, sir." Olivia says, "Is he speaking to the President?"

This week, I needed to get my license renewed because it is my birthday! Woo hoo. I received a paper telling me I needed to take a vision test. My husband looked on the site and said I needed to take a written test, he thinks. I started getting really nervous about a written test. I dislike the license bureau. For some reason, the place makes me nervous. (It may have to do with the fact that it took me 3 TIMES to pass my driver's test in high school. For the last test, the person took pity on me and let me drive in a nearby lumber yard without cars. And I passed!)

Anyway, I call the license bureau and the man tells me I don't have to take a written test. All of a sudden, I say Halleluiah! Without me realizing it came out of my mouth. I know the guy thought I was crazy. Then I went to the license bureau and took the vision test. The lady who was behind the counter doing the vision screening couldn't have been less enthused to be there. "Next," she said in a deep raspy voice similar to Roz, the slug-like administrative clerk on Monsters, Inc. "The vision test was so easy!" I started to tell her, "I can't believe I was worried about this test. I would have come here sooner if I . . ." She interrupted me and said, "Pay over there." She was the epitome of a bored state employee.

Anyway, I was quite happy the vision test was that easy. And thank goodness I didn't blurt out, "Halleluiah!" to that raspy lady. I can just imagine how well she would have liked me then.

December 5, 2012

The Movie: Life of Pi

(Spoiler alert, this talks about details of the movie. If you are planning to see it soon, you may not want to read it.)

I finally took my 6 year-old daughter to the movie. Perhaps, it was the wrong choice. The animals die.

I had read the book a long time ago and I had forgotten what exactly happened. I just remember it was an amazing book, one which only comes around probably once a year. It was a story where at the end you almost believe the events happen. For an author to make a reader question reality and believe in a story that rationally, they know can't happen, it means the author is a genius.

So I knew the ship was going to sink. I warned my daughter on the car ride over there. I told her it was done on a computer. It's not real. "I'll hold my hands over your ears for that part. I'll cover your eyes." In the movie, everything went according to plan. It worked. We got through the boat scene and I thought it is smooth sailing from here on out. (No pun intended.) 
And then . . . the animals got in the lifeboat. A zebra and an orangutan. With a tiger. With a hyena. Oh man, I said to myself. I finally remembered what happened in the book. And then she let out a huge cry.

I took her outside to the hallway and tried to convince her the animals weren't real. "They wouldn't put a real tiger in the boat with a boy, a zebra, and an orangutan. It's all done on a computer." She wasn't buying it. Those were animals and they were killed. I told her we could go home. (Leaving the theater after spending over $20 dollars on 3D movie tickets was not great but I was ready to leave if this is what she wanted.) She said she wanted to see the rest of the movie. I told her we can leave at any point, just tell me.

The killing was over by the time we got back to our seats. The only other bad part (which made me cry, too) was during the rain storm when the tiger almost drown in the boat. I kept whispering to her, "The tiger isn't going to die. The tiger isn't going to die."

In the end, it was not a good movie to take her to. She learned a lot of good lessons but those animals  . . .  Olivia said, "You know who I liked the most and wanted to live? The tiger." She is exactly like me. Always, rooting for the animal. The human, sure, it would be nice if he survived too. But if not, life goes on.

They said this book couldn't be made into a movie. But the movie was amazing. Ang Lee did a wonderful job directing the movie. I loved the ending, the whole point of it became clear. With God and with life, sometimes we need to believe in the better story even if we are unsure whether or not it is true.

A True Blessing - Yes, They Do Happen When you Are at Your Lowest

Chewie and Tigger

A Big Blob of 16 year-old Brotherly Love

Chewie, our 16 year-old cat, has been at the vet for the week because he has had a chronic ear infection for the past couple of years, about two times a year it rears its ugly head, we medicate it and it goes away and then eventually comes back. The problem is (and if you have a pet this might be good for you to know) when a person cleans the ear, they get the infection taken care of in the upper part of the ear. Vets know how to manipulate the Q-tip and medicine down further without puncturing anything. The ear canal is shaped like a L. It is very difficult to get to the root of the infection where the bottom of the L goes sideways.

Through the week, the vet himself took care of the infection because it is the worst he's ever seen, cleaning it and applying medicine. (We applied it for two weeks before but it just wasn't going away.) The vet said he got most of it but it still was present.

On Friday, he was going to put Chewie under with a light gas, not full blown anesthesia because of his age, and flush the ear or something with antibiotics to try and get it resolved once and for all. He said he would be okay, there is always a chance a pet may pass while under, but it was very unlikely.

He called Friday morning and said after they administered the gas Chewie's heart stopped beating!!! The vet was able to revive him but he said if anything happens in the future where he needs an operation Chewie wouldn't probably survive if he was put under anesthesia. Oh Lord, Oh Lord! Give a stiff drink and I don't really drink.

So here is an example of a blessing (Chewie didn't die) with a painful hardship (the way Daisy died). If you ever think EVERYTHING bad happens to you or why did some hardship happen to you and not to someone else, remember this is LIFE and one week it can be hard and painful and the next, you may receive something great. I'm going to have a heart attack by the time this is all through but I am so very THANKFUL he lived.

God bless you Chewie! You have always been a fighter.

November 29, 2012

What You Believe

This morning, I was sleeping on the couch and I had a dream. Well, it was like a dream but not like a dream. In my dream, I was sitting on the couch and Daisy was right next to me, her head turned toward me like she did when she came to see me. I was afraid to touch her at first, thinking she may be rigid or bloody, but then I wrapped my arm around her back, rubbed her neck, and kissed her on the head. Then she was gone. I remember noticing how warm she was when I touched her and feeling like she had come to see me, only to say hi. A simple, unassuming visit.
I only had a dream like this one other time. About a year ago, I was sleeping in the recliner with Noah in my arms. In the dream, Sebastien was on the other side of my lap, playing contently.  It was the very same type of thing.  He just came to visit, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to do. The strange thing is he looked the age he would have been if he had lived. Not the baby I left at the hospital who had died.

I can't say for sure if their spirits came to visit me. I would like to think so. I would like to believe we are not totally disconnected from those we have lost. But at the same time it is hard. I believe in God. I think I believe that spirits are among us. But there is always that skeptical person inside of me which needs some kind of proof.

I was really excited to see Daisy, whether or not it was true, it was as if I got to see her one last time. But it was also very sad. Seeing someone you've lost in a dream just makes you realize how badly you miss them. To me, those two dreams about Sebastien and Daisy are an amazing gift. It gives a small resolution, a last goodbye when in reality, we will never get one.

I hope heaven exists. I hope all of our pets are there despite the argument by some who say they do not have souls. I hope the millions of babies who have died after they were born or while they were in the womb are there despite those who say fetuses do not have souls. I hope Protestants and Catholics, Jews and Muslims are there and are finally at peace, despite their arguments over religion and who they think God deemed as the "right" religion. I hope gay people are there because homosexuality isn't a choice and it is only by ignorance that people think it is a lifestyle someone would actually choose. I hope murderers and the like who have truly redeemed themselves have a chance to be forgiven and receive the Grace of God.  To me, heaven is a place where everything living on Earth which is inherently good should have a chance to reside.

I hope with all my heart, I will get to see all of those I've lost one day and you will, too.

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving and All That Jazz

This year, my husband and I are making the grand dame of the Thanksgiving meal for the extended family of 20 some people - the turkey. Am I nervous? Yes. Should I be? Probably not.

It is amazing how the countdown to Thanksgiving can send you in a tailspin if you are making most of the food, especially a 16-22 pound ball of meat which can go very wrong at any point. Nobody wants a dry turkey. Undercooked, it will be the death of you. The turkey is always the center point of the magnificent feast.

I started out a couple of weeks ago searching Food Network,, and various other food websites and cookbooks to try and find the top rated turkey recipe. You see, I love to cook. I love to try new recipes. But when it comes to making a turkey and serve it to 20 some people, the thing that worries me the most is will it turn out well, taste relatively good, and how to make sure the stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and the big ol' turkey are done at the exact same time and it all turns out looking like it could be on the set of Leave It to Beaver. (Although, I'm sure some of that food was plastic.)

I decided to use Alton Brown's turkey recipe. It is the number one rated recipe on Food Network, over 4000 people have tried it. You know when my husband comes home and tells me even his coworkers have used this recipe, it must be pretty popular. We are going to have our Thanksgiving on Saturday because most people have in-law houses to go to on Thursday. So we'll see if it turns out.

And really, is the food supposed to be the highlight of the day? What Thanksgiving is really about is giving thanks, not an annual feast where you wonder if you should have eaten that second helping of stuffing because now you have to unbutton your pants or go sit down to let the carbs wear off. It's about doing what you love to do with family around: watching a football game, seeing a blockbuster at the movie theater (I'm going to see Life of Pi), spending time catching up with your childrens' lives, sleeping a few more extra hours - stuff we seldom have time to do when we are running the rat race to get everything done in our normal lives.

So, here are my two Thanksgiving wishes for you. One. Spend time on yourself, doing what you love to do. Relax. Enjoy the day. If that means for a mom to get to sit down and raise up her feet, do so. If for dad's, it means watching ESPN sports or sleeping in the middle of the afternoon, do so. If for children, it means having fun and getting away from school to watch a good movie, play a video game, or chat with hometown friends, do so. Spend time doing something you love.

Second wish. Be thankful for what happened to you this year. We are surrounded by many blessings, most we do not realize. My friend was in a horrible accident, he walked away fine. My dad broke a bone in his leg, but is recovering well. Our dog died and I screwed up taking her to the vet. But several times before in her life, good fortune was on our side. She turned out okay. When she sliced her leg and we got her to the vet in time, when she swallowed throat lounges and it wasn't poisonous, when she got out from underneath the fence and always showed up on the front porch waiting to be let in, not lost. All of us are surrounded by great blessings in our lives which are interwoven with hardships. And although it is difficult to remember this (believe me, I know) we have to hold on to those positives, those good fortunes we have had, when bad things have happened this year. There is always a parallel good scenario to a bad situation. Be thankful for the good.

I will try and remember my words when I am full of anxiety with that turkey on Saturday. Because really, it is a turkey! It is all about perspective. And now, I will bid you farewell. My daughter is waiting for me to play Barbies with her. I think she said we are going to play Fashion Show. (She has one Ken doll with a missing leg which I know I'll have to get stuck with. How do you have a one legged Ken model pants in a fashion show.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 17, 2012

And So It Goes

So to live large and feel a little cozy, I decided to buy a small gingerbread shake at Burger King on the way to get Olivia at school. I love the holidays and what better way to think of Christmas and feel a little comforted (after Daisy) than a gingerbread shake. (We women drown our sorrows in either food, fashion, or tabloid gossip.)

Anyway, I pick our 6 year-old up from school and ask her if she would like some. "You have never had gingerbread before, have you? I'm not sure you'll like it."  "No," she said. "But I'll taste it." We get home and I realize she never gave me back the shake. She hands me an empty cup and says, "Well, I can definitely say I like gingerbread."

Thanks! I guess she will get the warm and fuzzy feeling of Christmas and I'll get . . . a cup of orange juice inside. Drats.

November 14, 2012

Life Goes On: Especially When You Have Children

I thought I would change the mood for the time being. It has been a hard week but our other dog, Emmy, has been receiving the royal treatment. Every day I walk her, brush her, give her a treat, let her sit on my lap (she's a 45 pound lab, not easy), let her sleep on the bed (her favorite), take her in the car when we go out and we bought her a big bone and a squeaky toy. She deserves it though. The day after Daisy died, Emmy wouldn't go outside. The day after that, she went to the bottom of the steps, looked around, appeared very lost and came back inside. It has been hard on her. They both got their confidence by being together. A team. When they raided the waste basket, when they barked at the mailman, when they tried to be the one in front when they went on a walk - it was together. I told Emmy we are going to help each other get over this and I really think by doing all of these activities (for her) we will cheer each other up.

As for children, life goes on. My 6 year-old daughter, Olivia, volunteered to empty the dishwasher. I was so excited. Less work and she volunteered! I came into the kitchen and all of the cups, glasses, and bowls were stuffed into one shelf: upside down, sideways and every which way. It made me laugh which is good because it's been so sad around here.

We also watched the movie, The Diary of Anne Frank last week. We had gone to The Children's Museum in Indianapolis and they had a display about her so she knew a little about it. I told her about Hitler, the war, the Nazi's, the Jewish people and those against him. Olivia said, "Why did he want so much?"

Anyway, she was interested in watching the movie since it was on and I thought it would be okay because she's pretty mature for a 6 year-old. Well, she did well with the movie (understanding the meaning) until we got into the car to go and see her friend and her friend's mother. (Her friend's mom is from Germany.)  "Doesn't (insert name)'s mother speak German?" "Yes," I said. I knew something was coming. "So is she related to Hitler?"  Oh man. "Um, no. And by the way, please don't ask her that." 

Later, I explained not all German people are bad. (My ancestry is German.) Bad people are in every race, every country, men and women. I think she understood. But here's the thing: The biggest and most talked about topic after the movie for her was how "icky" it was when Anne and Peter kissed each other.

Oh well. I think she's going to be a great adult human being when she grows up. I have tried to teach her about being kind, caring, respectful, safe, and helpful. As we should teach all children to be.

November 8, 2012

The Day After

As I mentioned in my last posting our dog, Daisy, died this week. Today we received an autopsy report emailed to my husband's account from Purdue University. Puncture wounds. My husband said, "Puncture wounds!" He then looked further, it was for a 6 year-old male dog. "What?" And then he looked at the name. Rex. 
We received the wrong report.

It has been a long week but absolutely better than the very first night when she died. For the past week, I've played it back in my mind over and over. Was there anything she could have gotten into? I asked my husband, "Did you leave something out when you painted Olivia's room?" Could a piece of onion have caused it? What about Olivia's Halloween candy. Maybe a kidney infection because she had urinary problems. What about bloat, maybe it was bloat? But they would have seen it in the stomach, right? On and on. I try not to do it. Logically, I'm smart enough to know it is a stupid waste of time and tears to try and figure out because I'm not a vet or a psychic. It is enough to drive one crazy.

And in a way, I'm paying for it. My face is completely red and burning, brought on by emotional stress. I went to see my doctor today and she gave me some topical ointment to help. The only problem, it smells like perm solution!!! It has helped (I think) but I'm not sure I'll be able to put up with it for the next several days until it goes away. I gave up perms in the late 80's and I don't plan on reliving that odorific smell. My daughter came home from school, hugged me and said, "What stinks!"

I have been doing whatever I can to try and feel better: The Oprah Network, movies, walking the dog, chocolate cookies. These are the things for any female to feel better. I watched Oprah's Lifeclass with Iyanla Vanzant about getting over guilt since I feel horrible about not taking Daisy to the vet sooner. The Oprah Lifeclass helped. I will never forget my mistake but I need to somehow learn to live with it. I will forgive myself and make sure I learn something from it. And maybe, my difficult lesson will be your salvation one day if your pet or child becomes ill and you have to make a decision to go or wait it out.

So I will carry on. I'm not sure when we are supposed to receive the necropsy report. I hope and pray to God that it will offer some clarity. Knowing our luck, my husband will receive another report next week only this time, for a dog named Duke or Mitzy. 

November 6, 2012


6 years ago
She really became Olivia's dog

Last night, our dog died. I tried to remember everything I told other people when their pets died to make them feel better: At least they knew you loved them. You were lucky you had many good years with your pet. Animals die so new ones can have homes. Blah Blah Blah. It makes perfect sense but when it's your own, especially the first night, it adds little comfort.

Sunday morning she just suddenly changed. She wouldn't eat a piece of bacon. She won second place out of 20 in a dog eating contest  (the only reason the other dog won was he was a mastiff) so we knew something was wrong because she loves to eat and then she threw up. And we waited. Those are the words which can change your life forever and put you in regret like nothing else can. Not knowing whether to take your child or pet to the hospital because it may pass on its own is a difficult decision. I guess it should always be the hospital.

Daisy threw up three times that day. We took her for two walks and although she walked slowly, she wanted to go. We thought it was a good sign. Her head hung low though and she didn't look like she felt well.  We almost took her to the emergency vet on Sunday night. We even called. But she didn't look worse. Was she getting better? We thought about the $1,000 dollar bill. We waited.

That night, she threw up again. And in the morning she threw up another time. We called the vet at noon and we could bring her in immediately. It was several hundred dollars and they did an X-ray and fluids. Something showed on the X-ray in her stomach. They think it was a tumor or diapers. (She had gotten into the dirty diapers before. Since then we changed the container.) An operation, $1500, just an estimate. The doctor was going to keep her to see if she got better with fluids while we figured out about the operation and blood panel. We waited.

We decided at 4 P.M. to take her to South Bend, three hours away to our regular vet to do the operation the next day. With seven pets before and a stray, all  over the age of 10 except one, the vet in South Bend gives us a discount. We see him regularly for our pets, for shots, for thyroid pills, for bladder pills, for check-ups. Our bill is large at the end of the year but we take pretty good care of them. Currently, our animal population was 7 plus one stray and is now down to 4 and one stray. (The stray is now ours because nobody will take him. Good homes are hard to find especially if a cat has FIV.)

We picked Daisy up at the vet in our town in Illinois and we were going to take off to South Bend, Indiana to our vet. We decided to come home first because if she died in the operation to open her stomach (we thought it was diapers) she would at least see her home one more time. We placed  her on the ottoman (she was all doped up on pain medications) and fifteen minutes later she had a seizure and died.

At least she didn't die in the car. At least she didn't die alone. At least she was home when she died. I keep telling myself this over and over to try to make the pain go away, to look at the fortunate side. It isn't easy and it barely works. We waited too long. Those words will haunt us.  For the life of me, I don't know what we were thinking because it makes perfect sense to me we should have brought her in earlier. It was the anticipated huge doctor bill, it was the long drive and mostly, it was wanting to shut it out and have everything be okay for once. Every year a pet has died.

Newton, our floppy-eared rabbit with a spirit of a lion,  died last year. We spent the whole night at the vet's making the decision. Will he get better? We were there when he received the injection.

Ghost, our cat, died the year before that. A  slow death of loosing weight, ten doctor visits, countless tests and never finding out why.

Sebastien, our son, died that year too. His bladder was blocked as a fetus, born at 8 months, died four hours later. Again, doctors couldn't tell us what caused it.

This year, Daisy. We had a necropsy done this morning and there was nothing in the stomach. No diapers, no tumor. Was it poison or a toxin? Did she eat something bad? Was it cancer? Was it old age because she was 11? Again, no answers.

We have four elderly pets left  (Emmy 12, Chewie and TIgger, 16, Mitaine, 12) and a 5 year-old stray cat we took in with FIV (Feline Aids) who is healthy but can go down easily. So who is it going to be next year? 5 our left. (I know this sounds negative but it gets to you. The first time, you get through it. The fourth time, it wears you down.) We have been given many deaths and always left with no answers as to what really happened to cause them.

Last night, we just couldn't stop crying. We should have had a better compartment for the dirty diapers. We should have brought her to the vet sooner. We ultimately felt like we had killed her. Today, we have some consilation she didn't die from diapers. But we are left with not knowing what it was and if we had brought her in sooner, could something have been done? It is hard to live with regret for things you do in your life you so desperately wish you could have changed.

So in honor of Daisy, kiss your pets or pat them on the head tonight, let them know you love them. You never know when the last day will come. I should have walked her more. I should have itched her back like she loved but I always had something to do. I should have greeted her every time I walked in the door as dogs wait for you to come back home. Yes, I gave her a pretty good life compared to the average dog. But I could have done more. We always think there is a tomorrow for things. We wait. And those words, whether it's with people or pets, will end up haunting every single one of us at some point in our life. Don't wait for tomorrows. Waiting usually ends with regret.

Update: We are taking her to get a full autopsy. You can get one at Purdue University for around $90 dollars. Some may think why, when it's not going to change anything. But not knowing why stays with you forever. Some can live with it, some cannot.

Goodbye Daisy


October 2, 2012

The Unspoken Vows of Marriage

Yes, if you are married, you know the drill.
For better or worse, until death do you part  . . . and any added unmentionables.

For men, here are the unspoken vows.
1. I will get sucked into your hobbies, even if I don't want to.
2. I will carry your purse when you ask, even if I'm embarassed. But I will not go into your purse. I have limits.
3, I will buy your "monthly" things as long as I can hide them in the cart.
4. I will take out the garbage although I don't find it fun AT ALL.
5. I will give up every space in the house so you can decorate it, design it, fill it, and use it, whatever way you so deem, even when I have to give up my man cave for your craft and scrapbook space. Although I have no idea why you need an entire room for paper and glue.
6. I will never hesitate to make dinner - as long as I can use the grill outside. And you bring me a beer.
7. I will always agree you look thin. I'll always agree you look young. I'll always agree you are right.

For women, here are the unspoken vows.
1. I will put up with a dirty nasty toilet seat which never seems to get shut.
2. I will put up with stinky socks and underwear on the floor, that I'll have to pick up.
3. I will learn the hard lesson that I have to remember everything: every appointment, every child's lesson and school function, every grocery list, every bill. And keep schedules and TO DO lists just to keep it straight.
4. I will haul the kids everywhere.
5. I will have to cook chicken thousands of different ways by the time I die.
6. I will feed you dinner and you will like it - even if it's burnt, on sale, or raw.
7. I will expect you to make home improvements in this century. (Don't fool me. I know a hole in the wall does not take a year to patch.)
8. I will always be right. And if I am wrong, I will still always be right.

September 1, 2012

And What is That?

Before putting it in the oven my husband said, "I don't know but I think they're supposed to look alike." This was my ill-fated attempt at making Samosas, an Indian appetizer filled with a spicy potato/pea mixture. I had all the right intentions but somewhere along the way my first one became misshapen so I tried to correct the next one, then that turned into a glob, trying to correct it, the next one leaned to the left and by the time I was done - they all looked different. (I guess it's good I'm not throwing a dinner party.)

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, my husband's birthday was coming up. My husband likes to cook and I like to try new recipes which we both seldom do. (With children and schedules we're lucky if we get macaroni and cheese made.)  We decided to make  two recipes we really liked: Samosas and Eggs Benedict.

We started out early in the morning. The word for the day is EARLY and is a good indication, things didn't quite go so well. We bought groceries to make this green sauce (cilantro/mint) which is a traditional dip for the samosas. We bought the ingredients for the Eggs Benedict. Finally, we were ready to cook.

Well, you can see how the samosas turned out from above. The filling was pretty good (sauteed sliced onions with some curry powder, add mashed potatoes and at the end peas). The dough, not so much. Who knew Pillsbury pie dough (America's standby and what the recipe called for) doesn't really work so well with Indian food. (I think we should have used phyllo dough which is less doughy.)

Stephane, my husband, worked on the green sauce, called a chutney. My samosas were done after a half hour, his chutney, four hours later and believe me, it took all those four hours to make it. Little did we know, the recipe on this cook's website was wrong!!!   It said to add two cups of mint and one cup of cilantro, along with a tablespoon of sugar and a few other things. My husband took an hour trimming the mint leaves because they were from our garden and it was hard to get ones which were edible. After everything was blended in a blender, we now had green goop which tasted like spearmint gum. Yum! (Not the taste we we're going for.) Where the recipe messed up, the cilantro and mint amounts were interchanged and the cook should have put a teaspoon of sugar, not a tablespoon. Big difference.

As I mentioned before we were trying to save money and at this point we had a lot of ingredients in this concoction. So what did we do? We started adding things around the kitchen to see if we could make it better. Garlic, why not, add a few more cloves, not so good. Let's try some chili paste, not so good still. Maybe a few more jalapenos, no. Yellow mustard, bad idea. More garlic to counteract the spearmint, still not good. What about parsley, that's it. It's supposed to wipe out a bad taste. It helped a little but not enough.

In the end, after an hour of adding things, we now had a full blender of green goop (instead of half) and we were able to make it taste okay and by okay, I mean eatable. (The majority of green goop went back in the refrigerator for someone to eat where it lasted three days and ultimately, ended up in the trash. So much for saving money.)

So now it's 10 P.M. on that day and it's time to start the Eggs Benedict. No, I don't think so. Too tired. Too beaten down by this God forsaken green chutney recipe.

Ah, recipes. They are fun to look at (especially when there are photos), interesting to see how they taste but once you put in all the effort for a long drawn out recipe, it looses its luster. But, I will try again. Just not for a few months.

August 6, 2012

Getting Ready for the Loony Bin

For my friends outside of the U.S. the loony bin is the insane asylum and that's where I'm going. Today, my daughter is on vacation with my sister so I thought I would take the time (which I haven't done in a long time) to work on my story, Finding Hope. I went upstairs to my office where I haven't been in a week and surprise, I have elder bugs all over. They are everywhere outside in August, usually in massive quantity. Apparently, they get in through the windows and lucky me, half of them were on top of each other mating. Great.

First, I freaked out, then I grabbed Kleenex after Kleenex, and started killing all 20 some of them. I went to wash my hands, came back and there were two more. Got them. Went to wash my hands and there were four more. Went to wash my hands and there were . . .yes, you guessed it more and more and more.

This happened about 10 times before I did what any woman would do, I called my husband, screaming. "You have to do something! There are about twenty of them all over and I killed them and now there are more and they keep on coming and ah, there's one on my book. Take that you MF. And they're breeding. And they won't stop coming!"  It was like an invasion movie on television and I was the blonde bimbo screaming "help, help" when the monster was a little bug.

And of course he said, "What do you want me to do? I'm at work."

So I did the next best thing. I called my parents and my dad's reply was, "What do you want me to do? I'm in Indiana."

Now I am in my office, trying to write and every ten seconds I glance around for bugs. Meanwhile, my baby, who is in the bouncy chair next to me, has learned it is fun to throw things on the floor and have mommy pick them up. It has now become a ritual, he throws it down, I pick it up, he throws it down, I pick it up. So in between looking up for bugs and picking up a constantly dropped toy, I try to write. Ready for the insane asylum? Yes, I think I am.

Where's that stupid tissue, there's another bug. Freakin' A.

August 5, 2012

A Man's Birthday, What to Do

This week is my husband's birthday. Since we are trying to save money, I asked him what he would like to do. Wrong question. I have now promised to watch 5 seasons of Babylon 5 (described by Wikipedia as "an American space opera") complete with an Earth Alliance and spacefaring races.

Now, I like Star Trek in doses. Let me tell you, Connor Trinneer "Trip" in Star Trek: Enterprise wasn't too bad to look at, but Babylon 5 is like a B version with weird looking characters. One creature is bald with green spots and another looks like Napoleon's long lost father.

And maybe his crazy long lost brother as well . . .

Last year for his birthday, I decided to make gourmet food. I cooked lemon risotto, chicken with morels and panna cotta with balsamic strawberries. I know, sounds like a lot of fluffy upscale food. But it was pretty awesome. Except when he called an hour beforehand, when I had been cooking for three hours, to tell me his car broke down on the highway. I had to turn off the stove, take things out of the oven and stuff everything into the refrigerator. I then headed out to the highway (an hour away) to search for his car at an abandoned gas station. We ate at 11 P.M. but the food was awesome. I was quite proud of myself. Rachael Ray, take that.

When my husband and I first dated, I decided I would impress him for his birthday. (Before you get married, you always do it this way you know. After, anything goes.) I bought him a nice outfit and for extra brownie points, I bought his cat this expensive canned food. (What a joke. The cat turned his nose up at it.) Anyway, what did I get for my birthday that year? Nothing. I believe it's a guy thing. They just don't get it. Birthdays are important to women. You have to hit them over the head with hints before they realize, We Want Something Special (Done or Bought) For Our Birthday.

So we'll see how this Babylon 5 marathon goes. I'll be able to hold out for three shows, this is my bet. Once we hit more than that, I'll probably be snoozing on the couch. Unfortunately, I dream about what I watch at night so I'm sure I will have "an American space opera" going on in my head.
Lucky me.

July 21, 2012

Stalking Arnold

Here is an excerpt, well a pieced together excerpt, from my story, Finding Hope, regarding ta da, Stalking Arnold. He is a not-so-pleasant man who likes to meander into peoples' personal bubbles and as luck would have it, he is a member of the Love Club, a weekly dating club where Hope and Gina are members.

The Love Club is like a Welcome Back, Kotter type of group (if you can remember the television show) with a group of misfits. Some of the Love Club members are: druggy Alice who can't choose between the only two men who have shown her interest, the Jiffy Lube guy who changes her oil with a smile or the barista at Starbucks who says "hi" when he does the foam just right on her coffee; a Domino's pizza delivery driver who drives a broken down Pinto with a delivery sign on top of it; Minerva, who has more hair than a sasquatch; Javier, who wears white cabana shoes, a pastel shirt and thinks he is in a Miami Vice episode and of course, the beloved, Stalking Arnold. So, here is part of an introduction to Arnold. God, I love these strange characters. Normal is boring, right.

from Finding Hope

“Arnold Thaddeus Mizilwick,” Hope said as she peered outside of her living room window down at the street corner where Arnold was leaning against a telephone pole, “is one hell of a name.”

This was the name Hope was given by the private detective she had hired to find out who had been following her for the past two weeks. At first she did not recognize the name and was worried a dangerous and strange man was following her. As it turned out, dangerous he was not, but strange, more so than most. To Hope and Gina, he was better known as spatially challenged Arnold from The Love Club, a dating class they attended once a week. Now, they could add stalking his description.

The private detective had told Hope that Mr. Arnold Thaddeus Mizilwick was actually quite harmless. He had no prior charges, lived a quiet life, and was just an unfortunate victim of low self-esteem. “And,” he had added as an afterthought, “he had a brief but uneventful stay in the Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital—but nothing major.”

Although the bit about the mental hospital did not particularly make her feel at ease,Hope felt Arnold was for the most part, harmless. And in some twisted way, she looked at him as her somewhat protective but demented guardian angel.


“So how did Arnold find out where you live anyway?” Gina asked Hope who had relayed the information to to her the next day at breakfast.

“You know the old Victorian house down the street. The one which had the sale sign for the longest time?”


“Well, guess who bought it?”

“You’re kidding me,” Gina squinted. “Arnold?”

“Yes, Arnold Thaddeus Mizilwick.”

“Girl,” she said pointing her fork at Hope, “that’s a stalking sounding name if I ever heard one. That’s your cue to move.”

“I’m not going anywhere. I happen to like my house. So I have a man who follows me. I’m sure other women have that happen from time to time.”

Gina shook her head. “I’ve always said you live your life in denial, Hope. But I never knew it expanded to stalkers.”


Later in the story, as Arnold's stalking issues progress, they break into his house to find out if he is really dangerous . . .

“Okay, now I’m starting to freak out."

“It’s about time,” Gina said. “You just have bad luck Hope. Of all the men that could have had an obsession with you; you get Arnold. Why can’t women ever get stalkers who look like Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt. But no,” she said plainly, “they always have to look like Arnold. It’s the first rule in the Stalking for Dummies Handbook, you have to be weird and crazy ugly.”

Hope stopped finagling the bedroom window latch and turned toward Gina. “Are you done talking to yourself because I could really use a hand here.”

After they break in and find a few things . . .

Gina opened one of the bedroom doors. "Oh man. It's a Barry Manilow room!"
Hope turned the corner and pushed open the door. "You've got to be kidding." Concert posters were everywhere, t-shirts with his picture were framed and hung, and magazine stories and newspaper clippings of every place Barry Manilow had been covered the back wall.
"I think this guy has an obsession with someone else besides you," Gina said.
"You think?" Hope noticed a watch, a Christmas ornament, a snow globe, a dog tag, an iPhone case, water bottles, book bags and even a container of Eucalyptus bath salts all containing the Barry Manilow name. "This puts a whole new meaning to the word Fanilow," Hope said.
"I don't know," Gina said, looking at The Greatest Hits album. "You would think he would pick someone a little more, I don't know, womanly to stalk."
"Have you seen Barry Manilow recently?" Hope asked. "Anyway, let's move on. This gives me the creeps."
"Now, all we have to do is find your room, Hope."
Hope looked at her, "You're kidding, right?"

June 10, 2012

Finding Hope: The District Meetings Nobody Wants to Go to

So here's a brief (okay, lets change that to long) bit or chapter from Finding Hope, the book I mentioned before. And again, I know this is NOT what you are supposed to do because it's not revised and such to be perfect or turned in to a publisher but hey, I have a baby to attend to and we're just informal here on my site, right. That gives me a pass, for now.

There are two funny things to the following story: everyone has gone to work seminars and meetings where they drag on forever and this is partially a true story for me. I went to an informational work seminar a long time ago and a coworker actually wrapped some of the left-over food from the buffet table in tin foil and put it in her purse. She even yelled over, "Do you want some tin foil to wrap some food up?" She was a good person but it was pretty funny. See, I don't even have to invent these situations, it just happens. And then you embellish it a little and away we go, it's fiction after all, right? That's life, comedy is happening all the time - if you look around.

Finding Hope
The Sales Meeting from Hell

The hotel on 5th and Main Street was home to trade shows, expensive weddings, and monthly District wide sales meetings for the management team at Harcourt Investments. Those managers that is, who couldn't finagle an excuse to get out of them. Motivate Your Team For Record Sales, Learn How to Get the Most Out of Your Employees the memos stated, initiatives which all sounded great to the vice presidents and CFOs as long as they could send someone else to get the information.

Attendance was mandatory, participation non-existent. It was the dreaded first Monday of the month and Hope and Gina sat down on the white banquet chairs as far away from the podium where the monthly presenter What the F*** Chuck? (so named by the seminar attendees since nobody knew what he was talking about) was about to give another speech from the company sales handbook he wrote: Fifteen Ways to Get the Most from Your Sales Team: Lessons from a Superstar Seller.

“Why do we get stuck going to these sales meetings each month?” Gina said taking her pen and drawing mustaches on Chuck's picture in the sales brochure. “There, he looks better,” she said holding it up for Hope to see.

“You should have been an artist,” Hope said sarcastically.

“Huh,” she held out the brochure to see how it looked, “I didn’t realize I was that good?”

“I was joking. Don’t get your hopes up." Hope turned back to her own sales brochure and started writing down her TO DO list in the margins.

Gina sighed and watched the presenter for two minutes and then turned to Hope. “You do know, Mr. Harcourt sends us to these seminars each month because we’re women. He is a prime example of a man who thinks women are supposed to do all of the unpleasant work. I bet his wife just loves him in the bedroom.”

“Gina,” Hope shushed her. She looked around knowing many of the people at the seminar knew Mr. Harcourt.

“All I’m saying," Gina continued, "these monthly sales seminars and sales initiatives and sales targets bore me to death. I’d rather be in the office with that twit Corbin than sit here all day looking at pie charts.”

“Do you think I like sitting here?” Hope said. “No, but sometimes we have to do what is required because it’s our job. So stop complaining.”

“Personally,” Gina said going back to her doodling, “I think half of the business meetings that employees have to go to are crap and a waste of time. The managers spout off about time management and then send us to meetings that go on forever and ever and ever . . .”

“Shh,” Hope said again. “Gina, just listen and be quiet.”

“Why should I? You’re not listening." Gina pointed to Hope's brochure. “You’re writing down your grocery list and what you’re going to eat this week for your diet.”

 “No, I’m not,” Hope ignored her.

“Yes, you are,” Gina said loudly, “its right there,” she pointed. “See, you’re eating a chicken breast with broccoli on Tuesday.”

“Fine,” Hope said putting her brochure into her purse, “Now we’ll both listen to the stupid sales presentation.” They turned to see what Chuck Peterson, Executive Sales Manager for the U.S. Division, was saying while he stood on the podium looking over everyone.

“Furthermore,” Chuck took his silver extension pen and pointed to the pie chart on the screen behind him, “The statistical evidence shows that 15% of our investment group will go for the sales acquisition in Denver. Therefore, if we project a fairly accurate picture, the profits could bring back a highly equitable sum. Once we computerize the S.P.F.S, for those of you who are unfamiliar with their work acronyms it stands for Sales Projection and Forecast Spreadsheet,” he smiled, “the output will be in the 25% to 30% range. Please turn to page 76 and consult diagram F on the page. As you can see, the pie chart shows a larger yield in just a matter of one year. Now if you turn back to page 30 in your sales handbook…”

“Oh lord, kill me now,” Hope said putting her head in her hands and sighing.

“See, I told you,” Gina whispered. “You think Chuck’s boring, too.” Gina took her sales handbook and looked at the cover where Chuck’s photo was displayed. On the cover’s photograph, Chuck Peterson was sitting at an expansive oak meeting table, his trophies strategically placed in the background, while he held his gold pen up as if he was about to write some amazingly important sales letter. He smiled at the camera, his overly whitened teeth brighter than anything else on the page. Gina took her pencil and started coloring in his teeth.

“Gina, that’s defiling company property.” Hope grabbed the pencil from Gina's hand.

“Who cares,” she said putting down the 15 pound sales manual beside her chair with a thump, “Mr. Harcourt should pay us extra to go to these stupid meetings and besides,” she looked up and pointed, “Chuck, the sales geek, is way too peppy for a Monday morning.”

For the next hour, Hope looked around the room at the people in the seminar trying to find something to drone out Chuck’s monotonic voice. First, she decided to count how many people were in the room. There were 42. She then decided to count how many men had a comb over or toupee since strangely enough, it seemed like there were an overwhelming amount of them. She counted how many were wearing black suites, 30; then who was paying attention versus who was falling sleeping; and then finally, the number of men who were good looking, which, unfortunately, there were none.

“So we’ll take a 45 minute lunch break and then we’ll start again at 1:00 P.M.,” Chuck said, “After lunch we only have an hour to go. We’re going to talk about the new sales initiatives we're implementing next year. You'll be pretty excited.”

“Did I hear lunch?” Gina popped up from her five minute nap and rushed up to the buffet table where sandwiches, muffins, rolls, coffee and fruit awaited everyone.

“Thanks for waiting,” Hope called after her, but Gina had already disappeared. After Hope took her food, the two sat and ate in silence at their banquet table.

“Oh shit, here comes Norman Fiske,” Gina said ducking underneath their table.

“Gina, get up,” Hope said pulling on the back of her suit coat. “Oh hi Norman, how are you?” Hope smiled. Norman Fiske was a man who Gina despised. Hope looked at the young sales manager and shook her head. He was a hundred pounds overweight, a short 5’4 and had a tie that was way too long, half of his shirt was not tucked in and his suit jacket arms were way too long for his five foot body. He was harmless and, he was in love with Gina.

“Hi H.G., I mean Hope,” he smiled. “Forgot you changed your name. But it’s pretty, real pretty,” he said kindly.

“Thank you Norman.”

“I thought I saw Gina around here,” Norman said. “I could swear she had come back to the table after she went to get her lunch.”

 “Oh she’s here,” Hope said feeling Gina slap her knee underneath the table. “She’s just somewhere else at the moment. Try the bathrooms in the hallway. I think she went there.”

“Why did you go and tell him I was here at the conference?” Gina said trying to get up from underneath the table.

“He obviously knows you’re here. It’s not like he’s going to think it was a figment of his imagination that he saw you up at the buffet table.”

“I wish,” Gina said smoothing her skirt and sitting back down. “Man, I hope Chuck starts soon before Norman comes back.”

“Why don’t you just go out with Norman one time? You’ll make the poor guy’s day. You never know, you might like him?”

“We’re talking about Norman Fiske, Hope. Norman Fiske,” as if the name alone could explain everything. “He’s a guy who wears the same suit every month to this sales meeting; a guy who has more hair on the back of his neck than he does on his head; a guy that eats his food like he’s inhaling it.”

“Enough, I get the picture. But it might just be that the love of your life is coming in an alternative package.”

“Give me a break,” Gina said finishing her sandwich, “If that were the case, then why haven’t you given strange, stalking Arnold a chance?”

Hope didn’t speak further. The last hour of the seminar dragged on. Hope didn’t know why she had to go to these meetings each month. Every single thing Chuck said, every word, was right there in the 300 page sales manual for anyone to reference: Everything was written, rephrased, drawn in a chart and then outlined at the end of each chapter so even a person who didn’t know anything about sales figures could understand it.

“What do you think they’re going to do with all of that left-over food?” Gina said eyeing the buffet table.

“How should I know?” Hope said not interested.

“I mean, that’s a lot of food over there. They bought those sandwiches from CafĂ© Venue. I love their food.”

“It’s just food Gina. Besides, we’re on a diet, remember?”

“But they shouldn’t throw it away, its wasting money. Not to mention all of those poor kids in Africa who don't get any food.”

“If you want another sandwich Gina, just get one.”

“No, I don’t want one right now.”

“Then stop talking about it,” Hope said turning back to Chuck’s presentation. She was now counting how many bricks were behind him on the wall. This had to be the most boring presentation since they started having to attend them a year ago.

“I’m just saying,” Gina continued, “they would have put those sandwiches in the refrigerator by now if they were going to save them.”

Hope turned to look at her. “Do you have an obsession with food, Gina? Are you going mental on me?”

“No, of course not,” she turned to face Hope, “I just think it’s bad to waste food, that’s all.”

“So in conclusion,” Chuck said ending his Power Point presentation, “we can see that the estimates for sales program will increase not only the companies profits but your clients’ profits as well. And no matter how you look at it . . .”

“Lord, here we go again with Chuck’s closing line,” Hope sighed.

“A good business is a profitable business,” Chuck drew his hands up, did a 1, 2 as if he was shooting two pistols in a gun fight, winked his left eye and then smiled widely, showing his fluorescent white teeth.

“He’s such a weenie when he does this at the end of his speeches,” Gina said watching him.

“What can I say he probably wanted to be John Wayne as a kid. Now let’s go before the traffic gets bad.” Hope gathered her purse and books.

“I’ll be back in a minute.”

Hope watched Gina go over to the buffet table with her purse. Slowly, Gina looked around and after seeing nobody present, she grabbed a napkin and wrapped up one of the salami sandwiches and put it in her purse. After taking one more glance around, she hurriedly stuffed in two bananas, an apple and a few rolls.

“I don’t believe this,” Hope said surveying her from across the room. She went up behind Gina and whispered, “What do you have a bottomless purse? What the hell are you doing?”

“Hope, they’re going to throw away this food. So what if I take a little for later? You know what the bible says about free food.”

“I know, I know, we’ve been down that road before. It’s in another translation. Just load up the food in your purse and let’s go. One would think we don’t pay you enough for as many times as you go for the free stuff. But I know your salary, Gina,” Hope said, “and while it may not be enough to afford a mansion, you certainly can afford any food you could possibly want. It’s not like you’re one of those starving African children you mentioned just a minute ago.”

“So what, their black, I’m black. It’s a brother sister type thing. You wouldn’t know anything about it. You white people never ban together, it’s all about your differences,” she said wrapping up another roll to put in her purse, “You have every kind of white person in the world. This guy is a hillbilly from Kentucky, that guy is a lawyer from New York, this woman is a Mormon from Idaho, that woman is a prostitute from L.A. and all of them are white but none of them would stick up for one another.”

“Okay Rosa Parks. You’re going into your equal rights speeches again and frankly, I have no idea what on earth that has to do with buffet food.”

“I’m just saying, free food is free food and whether it’s a skinny girl in Ethiopia wanting it or a chubby one is San Francisco, we’re all entitled to some extra helpings once in awhile.”

“Then finish getting your food and hurry up. It’s embarrassing.” Hope went back to her seat and sat down. Hope could just imagine Gina’s $300 dollar purse smelling like salami and fruit. She saw the employees of the building, who were standing by the door, looking at Gina, saying things to one another as they watched her stuffing food down her purse like a clown with a bottomless bag.

Gina came over to where Hope was sitting. “Hey Hope, do you want some tin foil?”

“Where did you get tin foil?”

“I asked the Marketing Director over there.” Gina pointed and waved.

Hope looked across the room toward the buffet where two business women, holding clipboards and dressed in elegant business suits, were looking at them. Hope tried to hide her face with her seminar handbook.

“What’s the problem?” Gina said wrapping up the remainder of the roll she didn’t eat in tin foil. “What?”

May 13, 2012

Dog Saved by Working Together

A few weeks ago, I saw something amazing. At least to me. I have my times, Lord knows I do when I don't believe in the goodness of people. When I see them look the other way when others need help, when they push and shove their way at after Christmas sales, when they drop off their pet at the humane society because "it" doesn't fit in with their lifestyle anymore, when I see a mother smoking while she is pregnant, when I see in the paper a drunk driver lives while killing a family - I know I am not without my own faults or issues but it makes me wonder where we're all headed.

I was driving down a busy street to a grocery store and suddenly, a small dog (perhaps a puppy) was walking on the side of the street. He was sure to be hit by a car, no question it would happen. He was about ten pounds. I said, "Great, here is another dog I need to save." (After saving countless cats and not knowing where to find homes for them and about five dogs including a flea-bitten belly bloated chihuahua in Aruba who just wandered from a cactus forest when we stopped the car, I have seen it all. A cat with a tail chopped off, another with half an ear torn from a cat fight - they flock to me like they know where I am. Or maybe, nobody else notices them when they walk by?) Anyway, I knew I was going to have to stop and the reason why I was frustrated, I didn't know what I was going to do with him.  And then it happened! Like God opening the sky and sunshine coming down, SOMEONE ELSE STOPPED!

The person in the car ahead of me pulled off to a side road, got out of their car and tried to get the dog. The dog ran across the road, all four lanes were stopping.  Then one car which was turning stopped right in the middle of the road, got out of his car and crawled underneath another car which stopped. The dog was hiding underneath the wheels of the car. I thought I heard angels singing. People were working together to save one dog who wouldn't have made it otherwise. I was so proud. I don't know if it restored my faith in humanity but it showed me people have the power to make a difference and when they all come together to work for the common good, in some kind of special moment to save something many might find insignificant, it's almost like God is there with them, proud in this one act of humanity which shows we were worth it.

May 9, 2012

Down in the Dungeons

Note: This was a story I started when I was still working as a social worker and did evaluations in peoples' homes and the hospital.

Today, I had to go to the hospital to do evaluations on patients. I go there maybe two times a year since I do evaluations out in the community, not at the hospital.

I had never gone to the hospital alone. And I go maybe once a year when they need help. And there I went by myself; lost, lonely and confused you might say wandering around in a hospital basement through winding curves and passageways looking for a 5 by 5 foot office room which was supposedly next to the basement morgue.

When I first arrived at the hospital I asked the receptionist how to get to the office.

She gave me a strange look and said, "Oh boy, follow this hallway all around, go down to the basement and it's a quarter mile."

"A quarter mile!" I said. "In a basement!"

I knew for sure I would end up lost, in a hospital basement no less, and in a hospital basement with a morgue. And with a quarter mile to roam about, I could be lost for days.

I walked past ceilings with metal tubing, walls covered in tarp obviously being built or fixed, I even passed the morgue. And instead of remembering all of the Stephen King movies I shouldn't have watched when I passed by with the ghosts, zombies and the like; I thought about the people who were lying inside who had passed away, and even though I knew they weren't spiritually still there, I felt an overwhelming loneliness for them as I walked by.

(And that's where the story ended.)

January 4, 2012

Oh, Those Dang New Year's Resolutions!

This morning I woke up at 6 A.M. to start some of my resolutions.

For the first time in years, I made a real breakfast with omelets, toast, and a fruit smoothie for my family instead of pouring cereal or toasting a bagel. Well, who knew you can't make an omelet with 8 eggs and vegetables and it not get done in 5 minutes. So we had scrambled eggs instead. (Besides, I can never get it to flip over right.) To tell you the truth, I don't make very good eggs. The dogs ate half of them.

Another resolution, make sure the dogs get to have a walk everyday. Last night, I put on my Eskimo coat I never use (a friend gave it to me and it's covered in fur, and I don't do fur but it's warm) and took the dogs out for a walk at yes, 11:30 P.M. in the freezing cold. I walked them up and down our small street, watching for any strange man or big white van suddenly jolting to a stop to snatch me up, dogs and all. And I said to myself, watching everyone in their warm houses with their lights off and probably asleep, "What the hell am I doing?" But you know, it's good for the dogs and it's good for me and finding time to get out of the house is pretty non-existent. So in order to get out of the house, if I have to walk the dogs during the graveyard shift up and down our block in a burly fur coat, so be it.

Getting back to this morning, I was quite proud of myself that I gave my daughter a good breakfast, got her dress, painted her nails and even put little flowers on them and got her to school ON TIME. While I was making breakfast, I asked my husband if he could walk the dogs. So he got their leashes and walked the dogs again down the street and back.

This pride in myself lasted until I dropped my daughter off at school and got back. I fell asleep. I slept (in between watching Escape to Chimp Eden, three bottle feedings and several diaper changings) from 9 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. My goal was to be super woman and get the house cleaned, renew library books, and get my sleeping schedule back on track. Well, obviously it didn't work this day! (In my defense I was up all night. Couldn't sleep. Once it took me a year to get back on track.) So here I go again tonight, walking the dogs at 11:00 P.M. at night in my Eskimo coat up and down the small little street. I told my husband that as many times as we walk those dogs up and down the same street (because it's dang cold), they are never going to get lost.

Why do we make resolutions? To feel hopeful. I asked my husband if he was making any resolutions (well, ones that I don't make for him :o) and he said no, he doesn't believe in them, "What's the point." I told him it makes us assess what we want in life, how to be better, gives us hope that we can make our lives better. I know, sounds like a "I've Got a Dream" speech and I think he was already in the other room by the time I finished my little New Year's speech.

So here is to tomorrow. Where I'm going to wake up again and try to make my family a good breakfast, get my daughter to school on time and try to stay awake to the appointed time normal people go to sleep. More than likely, I'll be walking those dogs at 11:30 P.M. again, in that Eskimo coat hoping that the next day, I will be able to get things on track. With resolutions it's not always about being perfect but knowing we can do something to make our lives better and at least, trying.